Oct. 19, 2020 — U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller of the Southern District of Texas recently led a webinar, sharing insight and answering questions from University of Houston Law Center students to convey the benefits of judicial internships and clerkships for state or federal judges.
“A law clerk basically acts as the lawyer for the judge,” Miller, a 1978 alumnus of the Law Center said. “They will “advise me on the law and facts of the cases that come up and on evidence points in suppression hearings and criminal cases.”
Panelists included: Career Law Clerk Anna Archer ’06, term law clerks Drew Padley ’20 and Christina Beeler ’18 and summer intern Austin Turman.
“You get to learn about the different areas of federal and state law that come up through diversity jurisdiction,” Padley said. “Instead of the constraints and narrow focus of a specific law firm, where you might be pigeonholed into a certain area of law, here you never know what’s coming.”
According to Miller, key advantages of interning are learning the mannerisms of the courtroom and studying lawyering skills and strategies. Clerkships offer the same benefits, as well as bonuses and an opportunity to network and forge foundational professional relationships, making clerks a competitive applicant to law firms.
“Clerking is hands down the best career experience I have ever had, not just as a lawyer, but even looking at past career experiences as a teacher and musician,” Beeler said. “Even the interviewing process is valuable. Going into chambers and seeing how things work behind the scenes was so exciting.”
Panel members emphasized the importance of interning and clerking with judges, stating that it provides imperative legal experience and builds research and legal writing skills that will be utilized throughout their careers.
“It’s like a postgraduate degree in law,” Miller said. “The hand-on approach exposes unique facets of the court not taught, and it is a steppingstone into any legal occupation.”